Why sexual abuse victims have trouble coming forward

Published: Jul. 29, 2014 at 9:33 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2014 at 9:33 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - For the past week and a half, WBTV has been covering the Gary Goins sex abuse trial and we've heard testimony from all three accusers who say they were initially too scared to go to police or their parents for help.

WBTV knows many of you ask why, so we spoke with advocates at Safe Alliance. They provide counseling and other services to sexual abuse victims here in Charlotte and they told us how difficult it is for these victims to come forward.

"I was scared to tell anybody. I didn't know who would believe me or what someone would say," said one accuser in the Goins trial.

It's testimony like this in the Goins trial that Safe Alliance victim's advocate Cori Goldstein hears all too often, sexual abuse victims not willing to come forward.

"There's the emotional impact of they might feel like they're at fault or they might feel that they're embarrassed or ashamed. They might be thinking ahead to how is this going to impact their family and I think the biggest is if they'll be believed," said Goldstein.

According to Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, in 90% of sexual assault cases, the victim and their family know and trust the abuser.

All three accusers in the Goins trial testified they had close relationships with the former East Gaston High wrestling coach, which made it even harder to tell someone.

"I thought about just coming forward, but at the same time I was confused about what was going on. I just keeps eating at you and eating at you and eating at you," another accuser in the Goins trial told jurors.

Goldstein believes when more victims come out and are seen in the media, the more likely it will give others the motivation to seek help.

"It takes a lot of courage for someone to report sexual assault, so I think seeing someone out there that has faced that situation and come forward, I think that can be inspiring to other survivors," said Goldstein.

Goldstein says the best advice she can give someone out there who's a victim of sexual abuse is to talk to someone they trust.

She says parents can also play a role by keeping an open dialogue with children and letting them know they can talk to you about anything.

"It's not necessarily taking away a memory away by speaking out and getting services to get help, but it's having someone help you create a new way to move forward in life," said Goldstein.

Advocates at Safe Alliance say it's important for victims to come forward because child sexual abuse is a direct source of a number of problems including excessive drug and alcohol use, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders.

To find out more about Safe Alliance and their services, click here.

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